Winnipeggers will now be able to see wait times for walk-in clinics, as well as hospital wait times, as part of an effort to encourage people with less serious issues to avoid services emergency rooms and overcrowded urgent care centers.
The real-time directory is now available on the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority websiteShared Health said in a press release Thursday.
This website previously showed wait times for the health authority’s connected care walk-in clinics, but will now include other clinics and resources to help people determine the level of care they need, said the chief medical officer of the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority.
“We also recognize that this initiative alone will not solve longer wait times. But it will save you a lot of time if your care needs are less urgent,” Dr. Joss Reimer told a conference. virtual press release Thursday, adding that she hopes more clinics see the value of participation.
“Many clinics find it extremely useful to be able to display their wait times so they have some control over the volumes that come into the clinic, can promote their clinic when things are calmer, and can show things are busy, and hopefully redirect people.”
Reimer said about 40% of people presenting to emergency departments or urgent care centers might have been able to get the right help sooner if they went to a walk-in clinic.
In the Winnipeg Children’s Hospital emergency department, that number is around 50 per cent, according to the Health Sciences Centre’s chief operating officer, but it has fallen slightly in recent months due to an increase in respiratory viruses, said Dr. Shawn Young, who joined Reimer at the press conference.
The province is also trying to reduce hospital wait times by strengthening staffing levels through initiatives like a series of recent bonuses for nurses who work long-term, full-time or on weekends.
The new weekend bonus, which kicked off last week and makes nurses on those shifts eligible for an extra $8 an hour, could already be having an impact.
Young said there was an improvement in nursing staffing at HSC’s emergency department and several other hospitals over the past weekend.
“So anecdotally, it’s had some impact. It’s going to take us some time to figure out exactly what that long-term impact will be,” Young said.
Reimer added that two Winnipeg facilities were fully staffed last weekend for the first time “in quite a while.”
Shorter waits at walk-in visits: data
An analysis of hourly data from three years ago showed that thousands of people who went to the emergency room or urgent care could have gotten help at walk-in clinics, where the The average wait was much shorter, Reimer said.
In November 2019, around 21,000 people with less urgent needs visited emergency rooms or urgent care centers, where the median wait time was 2.4 hours. Almost half could have gotten care at walk-in clinics, where the wait time was 40 minutes, she said.
The new wait times list, part of a partnership with medical clinic directory Medimap, is one of several initiatives the health authority is taking to address ongoing patient flow challenges that are causing long wait times, according to the statement from Shared Health.
These steps will become even more important this winter, as the number of respiratory virus cases continues to rise, he said.
The early start to the respiratory virus and flu season in children has already pushed the number of patients presenting to the children’s hospital emergency room to record highs this month.
ER visits up, median wait time down
The number of people presenting to emergency and urgent care in Manitoba has jumped to about 250 each week – double the rate seen last November, Shared Health said. The number of patients presenting with respiratory illnesses saw a similar increase this month.
The number of daily visits to these departments also increased to an average of 783.5 in October, from 773.2 in September.
The median wait time for a patient to move from emergency or urgent care to an inpatient unit also increased to 22.48 hours last month from 22.28 hours in September, Shared Health said. .
However, median wait times for Winnipeg’s four emergency departments and three urgent care centers fell slightly to three hours in October, down 4.8 minutes from September. .
Expectations for the 90th percentile last month – the time it takes 90% of emergency room visitors to be seen after registering at reception – also fell to 8.2 hours, down from 13.2 minutes compared to September.
The proportion of people who left hospital unseen also improved slightly. It was 16.3% in October, down from 16.5% in September, Shared Health said.